Interview with Keith Carter
Interviewed by Edward Brown
Q: What is special to you about Ole Miss?
A: There’s a lot that is special about Ole Miss. I think for us, Oxford and Ole Miss are one of the same — we’re kind of the ultimate college town. We do things here a little differently than a lot of other places and it’s unique. So I love the charm of our town, I love the charm of our university, I love the fact that we’ve been able to do more with less here over the years and be more efficient. But I think what makes Ole Miss really special is the people. I think when people come to our town, and they don’t know much about Oxford or Ole Miss, the thing that they rave about is the hospitality and the fact that we welcome everybody in, as if they were one of us. I think for us here at Ole Miss, that’s kind of our calling card, that everybody feels comfortable and that everybody enjoys themselves. But just the charm and the hospitality of Ole Miss are probably our finest points.
Q: Obviously you’re an Ole Miss guy, so how does it feel to have this position now?
A: It feels good. It’s a little surreal in some ways. Being a student athlete here back in the mid- to late 90s, and to now come kind of full circle to be able to lead the department and be able to put time and resources back into student athletes, after having been one, is really fulfilling. What I love about it too is, again, we’re just a family here at Ole Miss. Whether it be Coach Luke or folks on our staff, everybody is pulling the same direction. I think it’s been really fun to see the evolution of Ole Miss athletics in my 22 or 23 years of being associated with the university, and to get the opportunity to lead that charge is pretty special.
Q: What are some challenges you have faced since you became interim athletic director?
A: I think the No. 1 challenge is just the volume of activity. When you’re the No. 2 in the department or overseeing development, there’s a lot of responsibility. What I’ve found over the past two or three weeks is that there are just a lot of requests, a lot of demands on time, a lot of things that, ultimately, the decision (about) rests with me. Converting over to that, where I used to be more in a support role, now getting the opportunity to make those decisions and work with our staff has probably been the biggest change. Really, initially, just the volume of activities that have been put upon me.
Q: What are you looking forward to as the A.D.?
A: We don’t want to slow down. We don’t want to tread water. Even though we have an interim chancellor and A.D. right now, we’ve still got a lot of great things that we have to push forward, and some initiatives that Ross Bjork and our staff had put in place. We don’t want to take a step back on those, we want to keep going. … For us we just want to keep pushing, and we’ve got a great staff in place, great coaches and certainly great student athletes to do that.
Q: What kind of direction do you see the football program going in?
A: I feel great about it, having spent some time with Coach Luke over the past few weeks, doing Rebel Road Trip and doing some different speaking events, just hearing his confidence and the way he’s leading the program. That we have two new coordinators that have all the experience in the world has added an element to that building as well. I’ve said this before, but you walk in the Manning Center, you just feel a quiet confidence over there. I think those guys are building something. I think that even this year we’re going to run onto the field, and we’re going to look different, we’re going to feel different, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch our guys play. … I’m really excited about what Coach Luke and his staff are doing.
Q: Obviously you weren’t here when they were hired, but just talk a bit about the two new coordinators.
A: I think it really speaks volumes for Coach Luke, for him to want to bring in the very best that he can, I think some coaches would have let their ego get in the way there, but I think for him you can clearly see that he wants our program to grow and bring in those guys that have been very successful at a high level for many years. I think that it just shows that he wants to be the best. You walk in the building, and just the chemistry and teamwork makes everything feel really good over there: lots of guys on the same page. I think when the team runs onto the field, you’re going to see a well-coached team. We’re still building in recruiting, we’re still trying to build our roster, but I think you’re going to see a team that is well coached and plays very hard.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I think our goal is, we want to be aggressive. I think when Ole Miss athletics has been at its best, everyone is pulling in the same direction — the coaches, players, student athletes, the staff, the fans and the donors.